book review

For Fans of Sherlock and Doctor Who | Jackaby by William Ritter

Friday, November 18, 2022

 Jackaby by William Ritter


Publisher: 
Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: 9/16/14
Pages: 299
Source: BookExpo (Thank you, Algonquin!)
Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny. Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.
Abigail Rook just arrived in America and is in want of a job. When she comes across a job posting for an assistant, little does she know what she is about to get into. Following the instructions on the flyer, it leads her to Jackaby’s office where she is thrown into a gruesome murder case that needs solving. 

A Sherlock-esque Character With a Supernatural Twist

I much prefer going into books blind. Sometimes the synopsis tells me very little but more often than not, it tells me too much. In this case, however, I went into the story having a sort of assumption on what it was about and getting it wildly wrong. I received Jackaby at a publishing conference and I remember discussing the book with the publisher at the conference. I must have known what it was about then but years later, I believed it to be a retelling of Jack the Ripper. Could I have been more wrong? And I’m so happy that I was wrong because what Jackaby is, truly, is magnificent. 

Let me introduce you to Jackaby himself. He will surely remind any reader who is aware of Sherlock Holmes of the man himself. The way he deducts facts is truly entertaining to encounter. However, where Sherlock Holmes solves cases that have nonfictional explanations, Jackaby believes in the supernatural.

It is a wonderful twist on a classic character that I am sure fans of Sherlock Holmes will absolutely love.

Incredibly Fun and Hilarious

This is not a serious book. If you are looking for a hard crime novel, this book is not for you. The plot is laugh-out-loud funny. One of the many things I adored about Jackaby is that William Ritter was not afraid to make the plot a little ridiculous.  He emphasizes a lot of hilarious scenes in the most normal way. Yes, there may be a swamp on the third floor but this is entirely normal. This comes across extremely fun and lighthearted. 

Superb Characters

I cannot praise this book enough. Jackaby is the star of the show, wowing readers with his deductive reasoning and crazy experiments. However, the narrator, Abigail Rook was the character who stood out to me the most. I couldn’t help but wonder more about her. Most of the time she seemed caught up in Jackaby’s world and I can’t wait to read the other books in the series to find out why Jackaby’s world is so intriguing to her. 

In today’s YA, it is so difficult to find books with little to no romance. But I’ve found one! Jackaby has barely any romance. It makes the book and its characters so likable. Jackaby and Abigail, though they work together, are NOT in love with each other. Finally, this book gives us a fantastic female and male relationship that does not involve romance. We need more books like this!

Jackaby was filled with a great cast of characters. 

Fantastic Writing

Despite Jackaby being closely compared to Sherlock, I found the story to be very unique. The world building was done really well. It was set in historical America but Jackaby opens a whole new world to Abigail with his introductions of several supernatural characters. Each new introduction flowed into the plot seamlessly. 

The case of the serial killer was very intriguing. Readers will get lost in the suspects, trying to solve the case themselves before it is revealed. The story was both a lot of fun and, also, unpredictable. There was never a dull moment to catch your breath. It is a book to easily fall in love with.

Overall

Overall, Jackaby is a wonderful book that will mystify readers with its great world building, fun characters, and hilarious lightheartedness. Fans of Sherlock and Doctor Who will be sure to love this action packed fun. 


Jackaby (9/16/14)
Beastly Bones (9/22/15)
Ghostly Echoes (8/23/16)
The Dire King (8/22/17)

Top Ten Tuesday

10 Book Series I'd Like to Finish Soon

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Every year one of my bookish goals is to finish at least 12 book series. It is a great way to catch up on the series that I am only one or two books in and finally stay accountable and read the conclusion of some of the series I have been putting off for a while. To make it a bit easier, I even have a "series to finish" shelf set up on Goodreads that will list all the series I am in the middle of and which book I need to read next. With the end of the year fast approaching, I am keeping an eye on that shelf and trying to organize which series I still need to finish this year. 

I have more than ten series to choose from, but I'd thought to bring attention to ten series that I am most likely to get to this year. It would be nice to finally finish these series; even though, I don't want the book series to end. Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created and hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is: Top Ten Book Series I Want to Finish:


Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong

Bright Raven Skies by Kristina Perez

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo


Gods & Monsters by Shelby Mahurin


Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco


Chosen by Kiersten White

A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd

The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan


Warmaidens by Kelly Coon

What series do you need to finish?

Tackling my TBR

Tackling My TBR: November 2022

Friday, November 04, 2022

Tackling My TBR is a monthly post, where I share my reading plans for the upcoming month. It's hard to believe that it is already November. We don't have much left in the year. And I still want to read so many books! 


Each month, I usually pick three pieces of paper out a jar and pick my TBR that way. However, we are going to do something a little different today. I have been journaling what I have been reading in a sort of bullet journal this year. I print out small pictures of the book covers of all the books I read to make my spreads more visually appealing. However, to save paper, I have been printing out a bunch of covers ahead of time and then pasting the ones I read during that month in my spread. Doing it this way, I have several covers printed out already that I haven't gotten a chance to read yet; so for the next two months I will be tackling those books. I've chosen ten books to read during November and hopefully, by the end of the month, I will have tackled all of them.


The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan: I am super excited to read this one and complete the Kane Chronicles. I adore Egyptian mythology so I am loving this series. 

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman: Did you know that this is being turned into a movie, starring Tom Hanks, and the movie is coming to theaters this month? While watching the television the other day, I saw the movie trailer and was so excited to finally pick up the book.

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett: I have been working my way through Bennett's YA contemporary romance backlist so I can eventually read everything from her. Her writing is like a warm hug so no matter what the book is about, it will be a good time.


Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse: When this first came out, a lot of reviewers were raving how fantastic it was. I can't wait to finally dive into it and see if the hype was correct.

His Hideous Heart edited by Dahlia Adler: This book is a collection of short retellings of Edgar Allen Poe's greatest work. Plus, while the entire beginning of the book are the retellings, the other half is the original source work so I can look back onto his work if I need a refresher. I can't wait to dive in to these delightfully spooky tales.

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan: This book has been on my shelves for years. I don't usually gravitate towards nonfiction, but I discovered that they made this particular book into a movie and am interested to see how they both compare to each other.


Lore Olympus volume 3 by Rachel Smythe: I adore reading books that reimagine Greek folklore and mythology. This graphic novel series follows the modern-day retelling of Hades and Persephone's story.

The Book of Azrael by Amber Nicole: It feels like I have been reading this one forever. Ebooks always take me longer to read than physical copies of books. The Book of Azrael totals around 800 pages, which is quite daunting. I am already quite a bit in the story and am liking it so far!

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris: I have had this one on my shelf ever since it released. Usually, I don't read too many thrillers but this one definitely intrigued me since it is set in the publishing industry.


My Killer Vacation by Tessa Bailey: This one released this summer and I had to go out and buy it right away. I meant to read the book over the summer, but I didn't get to it. Tessa Bailey writes fantastic romances and when I heard she was working on this one, a mash-up between a mystery and a romance, I knew I had to give it a try. It sounds amazing!

What are you planning on reading this month?

book review

Whimsical Retelling | Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

Friday, October 21, 2022

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge


Publisher: 
Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: 5/5/15
Pages: 448
Source: purchased
When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat. Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?
Rachelle is a promising apprentice for her aunt; one day she will rid the world of its evil. In pure curiosity, she challenges one of the Forest-bound, the beasts of the wood, to outwit in order to gain secrets about the world she has vowed to save. Instead, the beast catches her and she transitions into what she has feared all her life. Despite her form, Rachelle must stop the evil from consuming the world or die trying. Crimson Bound is a whimsical retelling of the classic tale of Red Riding Hood.

Red Riding Hood

  • After Cruel Beauty, I was expecting to be blown out of the water yet again. I’m not too fond of Red Riding Hood retellings. Ever since Catherine Hardwick directed that movie, I’ve seen an overabundance of retellings of the story that are all too much alike. The red cloak, Grandma, the wolf, the love triangle. Please, stop. Despite my qualms about Red Riding Hood retellings in general, I had high expectations going into this one. I loved Cruel Beauty, where Hodge took a magnificent tale and made it entirely her own. I expected Crimson Bound to be similar, in it being unique and gorgeous. 
  • Red Riding Hood is relatively simple tale. Give it to Rosamund Hodge and she throws a highly complicated tale back at you that barely resembles that of Red Riding Hood. The similarities are so far and few in between that Crimson Bound should be seen not as a retelling but as its own story. Hodge took the dark side of the fairytale and transformed it into her own.
  • Rachelle, our very own Red Riding Hood, is courageous and strong. She’s a very curious character, a character who wholeheartedly believes she is doomed to hell. This makes her reactions hard to connect and relate to. Her back story is interesting, enough to keep me going, but her doubts are maddening. I was back and forth with her from being annoyed to rooting for her.

Slow Trek Through the Woods

  • The plot is incredibly slow, with a complicated set up of fantastical creatures: bloodbound, forestborn and the Devourer. I definitely wanted a bit more back story—a longer introduction to the world building that most definitely fell a bit short. 
  • It dramatically picks up towards the end of the book. Somehow at that point of the story, you will get sucked in without even realizing it. I never connected to the protagonist, but the story itself pulled me in, refusing to let me go. Emotions ran deep and Hodge doesn’t mind breaking our hearts. 

In the Forest

  • The woods take on a personality of its own. The visual aspect of the forest is certainly to be expected from the amazing writer, Rosamund Hodge. She grips you from the very first page.  Eyes widening, heart pounding. It’s difficult to do that in just one page, let alone just one paragraph but she accomplishes this and so much more in the span of the book.
  • Despite the storyline not competing well with Cruel Beauty, the book is still written very well. The action sequences are absolutely gorgeous, blurring the lines between the characters’ beliefs and what is right or wrong.  Also, it is undeniably unpredictable. You will never see what is coming and what Hodge has in store for you.
  • The imagery is incredibly beautiful and highly visual. The idea of having an invisible red thread attached to your finger is not a new concept as I have come across it in an array of folklore. However, I think Hodge has morphed the concept, woven it into her story seamlessly as if it is a part of her world.
  • I wouldn’t have put it past Hodge to kill everyone off in the end. From where the story was headed, I was certainly ready for it. As much as the ending could have been dragged out a little longer—I wanted to see Rachelle recover and I would have loved to know what had happened to the other characters—the ending leaves you content.

Overall

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge brings a tale of shadows to light in a fantastical retelling of Red Riding Hood. Despite my crushed high expectations, Crimson Bound does have its surprising charms within the gorgeous images of the living forest and the country palace. The world building, however, does fall short but what it lacks in the world, it makes up for in the end by action. Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge makes sure you will not make a journey into the woods alone anytime soon.

book review

Full of Holiday Spirit | Talk Santa To Me by Linda Urban

Friday, October 14, 2022

 Talk Santa To Me by Linda Urban


Publisher: 
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 9/27/22
Pages: 288
Source: Netgalley/ from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (thank you, Atheneum Books!)

A teen girl gets the perfect second try at a first kiss in this hilarious, romp-filled young adult romantic comedy perfect for fans of Jenna Evans Welch and Hallmark Christmas movies. Francie was born in a stable. Really. Granted, it was the deluxe model with the light-up star on the roof, one of the many Christmas items for sale at her family’s Hollydale Holiday Shop. Their holiday gift empire also includes the Santa School, which was founded by Francie’s beloved grandpa, who recently passed away. Francie’s always loved working in the shop, but lately Aunt Carole has been changing everything with her ideas for too-slick, Hollywood-inspired Santas and horrible holiday-themed employee uniforms. Aunt Carole’s vision will ruin all the charm and nostalgia Francie loves about her family’s business…unless she does something about it. But this winter is about more than preserving the magic of Christmas. Francie is saving up for a car and angling to kiss the cute boy who works at the tree lot next door—hopefully it will be good enough to wipe her fiasco of a first kiss from her memory. As the weather outside gets more and more frightful, can Francie pull off the holiday of her dreams?
Francie, short for Frankincense, grew up in her family’s holiday shop and Santa school. She knows the ins and outs of the business. When her aunt decides to make a few changes, Francie isn’t particularly happy about it, especially when their annual TV special seems to be going all wrong. When Francie places herself in front of the camera, exclaiming that she works for Santa himself, several children begin sending her letters to give to Santa. Francie must balance her school life and her work as the self-appointed intern of Santa. Talk Santa to Me is a hilarious read that will certainly have readers believing in the magic of the holidays.
  • From the introduction, I knew I was going to love this. Its easy readability coupled with downright laugh-out-loud humor makes this book release one you definitely want to have on your radar.
  • It follows Francie, whose inner voice is filled with funny antidotes and relatable moments. She's quite snarky at times and her sarcasm makes the setting even more funny. Her family runs a Santa school and owns a holiday shop, where Francie also works. 
  • The story is incredibly short, totaling under 300 pages. For such a short book, there was a lot of moving elements without any real focus on one main plot. Not only did readers get a glimpse of Francie's school life with bullies but also the battle with her aunt who hopes to change her family's business. This was more of a day-in-the-life kind of tale than anything else. 
  • While I went into the book expecting an adorable romance, that storyline doesn’t become prominent until the last half of the book and even then, it seems to take place as a secondary plot point. Primarily, Francie is busy with her family's business as she poses as Santa's intern. Urban centered the story around family, an element that I really enjoyed. It made the book even more heartwarming.
  • The synopsis, along with the cover, is what truly drew me into this book. The summary likens Talk Santa to Me to a Hallmark Christmas movie and I would most definitely agree. In fact, I would love to see the book be turned into a holiday movie. 
  • The ending is so charming. It will have readers finishing the book with a warm heart.
If you adore cute holiday reads, you definitely don't want to miss this one.